Friday, September 19, 2008

Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot)

So a 4 hour train and 4 hour bus ride later, we arrive in Dharamsala. It is too late to go up to McLeod Ganj, where the exiled Tibetan community resides, so we crash for the night in a horrible guest house and go up the next morning. After a delicious breakfast of hash browns, sauteed veggies, eggs and toast; we set about to look for a place to stay. Michael walking accidentally down the wrong road, and after asking a shopowner was lucky enough to be tipped that if we keep heading up, we will arrive in the quiet village of Dharamkot. Sounding like it's just what we're looking for, we climb up and over to the other side of the hill with our packs and stumble upon one of the nicest guest houses we have stayed at: huge windows all around overlooking the village and a balcony of our own.

Happy to be in the mountains again, we set about exploring, walking across to the neighboring village of Upper Bhagsu and working our way down to Bhagsu Nag- where we found out where all the Israelis have been hanging out. From there is was a walk around to the other side of the hill and we were back in McLeod Ganj. This is the walk that would frame the remaining days of our week, as we embarked on a cooking course and a massage course.

cooking class, working on the palak
The following morning, I went down to a yoga class in Bhagsu where the teacher proceeded to fold me like "cloth". Then it was time for cooking class with Rita. First day, we learned to make a Thali (the Indian dal bhat that consists of lentils, curry, rice and chapati). In the next couple of days we also learned how to make Malai Kofta (potato cheese kube-like balls in sauce), Alu Paratha (potato stuffed flat bread), Samosas, and Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cheese). Yummy! We ended the day back in Dharamkot where Michael took an Ayurvedic massage course. Needless to say I was not complaining about having to be the model for the next 5 days!

temple in Mcleod
In between cooking in Bhagsu and massaging in Dharamkot we had some time in McLeod Ganj, where we discovered the Tibet government bakery and a Momo shop making delicious chai, perfect for our afternoons. We got to see the main temple area, the Dalai Lama residence, and the Tibet museum- telling the story of the Tibetan exile, which was quite profound. Another day, we got a tour of a hand-made paper factory run by the Tibet welfare office, by a young Austrian volunteer. It was really interesting to get some insight about how the exile government is run.

So today was a surprise. after a relaxing morning we walked down to milkey way cafe for brunch. they make delicious sabich pitas,shakshuka, hummus, etc. After our meal as I walked along the path down towards the massage school I see Dru and Amy, a buddy of mine from home and his sister. we knew we were both in the area, but hadn't connected by email in a few days. we spent the afternoon all together, chatting and a short walk around Dharamkot. We planned hike for the next day up the mountain to Triund for a view of the other side. With a clear and sunny morning we started off up the mountain. A pleasurable hike with beautiful views above dharamkot and bhagsu we kept climbing. After just over 2:30 we were at the top. Just as we were approaching the clouds had begun to roll in and our view of "the other side" was covered in thick clouds. We enjoyed a chai before heading downhill. In  the last couple days it had begun raining quite early in the day so we made our brisk return. Daphna and I had a delicious sabij sandwich each and then enjoyed a well deserved rest.

hike to Triund
The next morning the four of us met for breakfast. With full bellies we headed down to the Tibetan complex housing a cultural museum, a medical institute, the supreme justice, a library, and other Tibetan government related buildings. Some interesting things we saw included hundreds of samples of Tibetan herbs and minerals used in Tibetan medicine, ancient buddha statues and textile arrangement, among others.

After building up an appetite at the complex it was time for lunch. We walked the 2.5 km to Bhagsu, not a big deal, for a special pizza. Best pizza on our trip so far. Then it was a good-bye to Dru and Amy as it was our 8th and final night in Dharamkot. The next morning we would be off to Manali-Vashisht area on an early bus...


  1. This sounds wonderful! Thanks for the post and blessings on your journeys. Rebecca

  2. I looked up Dharamkot on the internet - Wikipedia tells us that it is known as "mini Tel Aviv".

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  4. Hey I am going to Dharamkot tomorrow from Delhi. Can you tell me the name of the nice place that you stayed at? Was it expensive? Clean?

  5. The place was called Snow White- it doesn't have a sign so you have to ask around. The name of the son of the family that owns it is Deepak. It was 200 rupees/ night for double ensuite w/hot shower and fridge, and was very clean. The back room was smaller and cheaper.